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The Risks of Chewing Tobacco if You Have Diabetes

written by: Bobby Mathew • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 4/12/2011

Do chewing tobacco and diabetes mix? Many people think that chewing tobacco is a better alternative to other forms of tobacco. However, it may not be the case, as this article reveals.

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    Something everyone concerned with their health should know is that chewing tobacco and diabetes do not mix. This is because chewing tobacco makes diabetes worse than it already is. Most people are not inclined to quit chewing tobacco if they are already doing so. Hopefully, this article will convince at least some people how this substance aggravates nearly all of the complications of diabetes.

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    The Effects of Chewing Tobacco on Diabetes

    Tobacco raises blood sugar levels, making your diabetes harder to manage. This is because tobacco products interfere with your body's ability to use insulin. Chewing tobacco is especially dangerous because it is high in sugar.

    Diabetics often have problems with their eyes. High blood sugar levels cause retinopathy, a condition where tiny blood vessels in the eyes become blocked, weakening the eye. Tobacco products make this condition worse, leaving you with less healthy eyes.

    Chewing tobacco and diabetes make a poor combination when it comes to teeth and gums. Diabetics, especially, need to keep their teeth and gums healthy because they are at a higher risk of getting infections, gum disease and plaque buildup. However, chewing tobacco only makes the situation worse, putting patients at a higher risk of getting these conditions.

    Chewing tobacco also accentuates nerve damage that occurs as a result of diabetes. This is because tobacco products keep oxygen and nutrients from traveling to nerves by damaging vital blood vessels. Numbness and pain are common symptoms that occur as a result of this. In addition, males may experience a loss of sensation in their genitals from a combination of chewing tobacco and diabetes related nerve damage.

    You are also far more likely to die of heart disease or stroke if you are diabetic and chew tobacco. This is because the nicotine in chewing tobacco, like all tobacco products, increases your heart rate. It also increases your blood pressure.

    Chewing tobacco is also bad for your kidneys. This is true whether your are diabetic or not. However, in people who are diabetic and take ACE inhibitors to preserve kidney function, chewing tobacco may counteract the ACE inhibitor.

    People who are diabetic usually don't need amputation. However there is an exception for those that use tobacco products like chewing tobacco. In addition to deceasing blood flow to the limbs of the body, chewing tobacco can also cause foot ulcers and foot infections.

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    Final Words

    It goes without saying that chewing tobacco is a harmful product. It doesn't help to know that it can be more addictive than ordinary tobacco products. Nonetheless, it must be stressed that chewing tobacco is not a safe alternative to any other form of tobacco. If you use tobacco products and are diabetic, quit now before it's too late.

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    References:

    [1] Native American Rehabilitation Association: http://www.naranorthwest.org/diabetes%20and%20tobacco.pdf

    [2] National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: http://www.wvdhhr.org/bph/cvd/page1.htm


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